The No. 19 SVSU men’s soccer team drew with Northern Michigan last weekend for the second time this season, tying the host Wildcats 2-2 on Friday, Oct. 12.
The draw knocks SVSU down to second place in the GLIAC, just behind Wisconsin Parkside. NMU sits in third.
“We are left feeling like it was an opportunity missed,” head coach Andy Wagstaff said. “We went into the game believing that we were capable of gaining three points, and once again dominated long stretches of the game, but came away with a disappointing draw.”
SVSU also played rival Northwood on Sunday, Oct. 14. However, the game was not yet completed when The Valley Vanguard went to press.
Friday, the Wildcats scored almost instantly, as the GLIAC’s leading goal scorer Sam Popp found the back of the net following an NMU corner kick just five minutes in, giving the Wildcats a 1-0 edge.
SVSU quickly answered. After shots in the 12th and 16th minute, the Cardinals equalized when senior midfielder Michael Shaikly put away his second goal of the season to knot the score at 1-1.
Despite SVSU holding a 9-2 advantage in shots during the first half, the score remained even going into halftime.
“They tend to put every player behind the ball and camp out in their half of the field,” Wagstaff said of the Wildcat defense. “They wait for a turnover, and then they counter with some good, quick attacking players that they have.”
The remainder of the match was as emotional as it was exciting, as 11 penalties were carded, seven of which were on the Cardinals.
Despite the high emotions, SVSU appeared to score the goal it needed in the 70th minute, when junior forward Azaad Liadi scored on a rebound of his own shot, his fifth goal of the season, to put the visiting Cardinals ahead 2-1.
“(Michael Hamilton) was dribbling towards the back line, and I made a run in behind, and he found me,” Liadi said. “I was happy to be able to help my team get in front and relieved to have capitalized on another chance after missing one earlier in the game.”
Liadi blasted 10 shots in the match, including six on goal.
However, it was not long before the Wildcats answered, as Popp again found the back of the net on an unassisted goal, tying the game at two goals apiece.
The two goals were the most SVSU has allowed in a single game all season.
“The goals we gave away are frustrating and simply out of character,” Wagstaff said. “I think a little bit of complacency crept into our team defensive performance (Friday), which allowed them to grab two goals against us, even though it was completely against the run of play.”
SVSU rattled off four more shots following Popp’s equalizer, again outshooting the Wildcats 9-2 in the second half. However, the clock eventually expired, and the game was sent to overtime.
Frustrations continued to mount during the ensuing overtime periods, as SVSU was given two cards, one of which was a red card on the team as whole, while Northern was also given its fourth yellow card of the game.
“The positives are that we left with at least one point,” junior midfielder Pablo Ortiz said. “The negative is that sometimes, everything that can go against you will go against you. We just have to stay positive.”
Neither team conceded in the two overtime periods, and the contest ended in a draw. SVSU’s lone shot of overtime came in the 104th minute off the foot of Liadi, but it was saved by NMU goal keeper Valentin Kliebe.
Kliebe recorded five saves in the match.
“From a positive perspective, we remain unbeaten for a number of games now and continue getting better each game,” Wagstaff said. “Going to a place like NMU in the freezing cold and dealing with some adversity can only make us stronger and battle-hardened for the GLIAC league run and conference championship challenge.”
SVSU continues its GLIAC season next weekend in a huge match on the road against conference leader Wisconsin Parkside. SVSU’s lone loss of the season came at the hands of the Rangers, who will look to extend their GLIAC lead as the regular season winds down. Kickoff is set for 1 p.m. on Sunday, Oct. 21.